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Hugh Leatherman Responds To Gas Tax Lawsuit

Senate president’s lawyers move to have our case dismissed …

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Attorneys representing powerful South Carolina Senate president Hugh Leatherman have responded to a lawsuit brought by this news site’s founding editor Will Folks.

As expected, they want it dismissed …

Two months ago, Folks challenged the constitutionality of a massive tax hike passed by state lawmakers in May.

Specifically, his suit claims the new law – Act 40 of 2017 – violates the state’s constitutional prohibition against laws relating to more than one subject.

“Every Act or resolution having the force of law shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title,” Article III, Section 17 of the S.C. Constitution (.pdf) states.

Does the gas tax hike – which will drain an estimated $1.8 billion from the economy over the next six years and around $600 million annually each and every year thereafter – conform to this constitutional requirement?

No, it does not …

According to Folks’ suit, various “add-ons” to the bill – which were attached with the intention of luring reluctant State Senators into supporting it – address “completely unrelated subjects” to the subject of the legislation, i.e. our state’s infrastructure.

Had these add-ons not been included, the bill never would have passed the State Senate … but with them, it fails to pass constitutional muster.

The law is clear, people … of course the real reason to oppose this ill-conceived tax hike is far clearer.

“I believe this regressive tax hike will be devastating to our state’s struggling economy – hurting cash-strapped taxpayers who will now be on the hook for a flood of new borrowing,” Folks wrote upon filing his lawsuit

As with attorneys for the S.C. House of Representatives and the office of attorney general Alan Wilson, Leatherman’s lawyer asked for the case to be dismissed.  Unlike the House and the attorney general’s office, though, Leatherman’s lawyer actually spelled out a rationale.

Or what passes for one, anyway …

Take a look …

Fullscreen Mode

(Via: Richland County Clerk of Court)

Our view?

Leatherman’s response is arrogant.  Out-of-touch.  And wafer thin.

Basically, it argues for four pages that Folks does not have standing to sue (really?) and that the law is constitutional because Leatherman says so.

No defense of its constitutionality is offered, though.

We believe Leatherman is worried.  And frankly, he should be …

Stay tuned … attorneys for our founding editor are looking forward to responding to this motion.  When they do, we will be sure to provide a copy of that response to our readers.

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